Today, I sang for the funeral of a dear parishioner. This lovely woman was a warrior—she kept going in her later years, collating mailings and attending Bible Studies, singing in the Rez Choir and keeping on moving on.
This was the Gospel proclaimed at her funeral liturgy:
“Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:
I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.’
“Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’
[Mt 25:31-40 The Message]
As I heard these words, my heart resounded with the firm sense that this, this is what we are asked to do in life. It may take the quiet forms of my parishioner’s life or it may be more dramatic. Regardless of the how, it is the what that matters.
What a call for these days.
Her liturgy ended with us singing, “Let There Be Peace On Earth.” Every time I sing this piece, it cuts to my soul. Musically, it is pretty schmaltzy, but the words are the challenge equivalent to the Gospel above.
Let there be peace on earth. Let it start with me. Let it begin as we care for those who have no one to care for them, for those who are incapable of caring for themselves. For those who are beaten down by poverty, mental illness, hunger, homelessness, abuse, violence, discouragement, loneliness…
Isn’t this what it means to be great?